Houston Transformation Conference – Panel 1: Moderator Stephen Fox

The Leading with Landscape II: The Houston Transformation conference explored how ambitious, large-scale landscape-architectural projects are taking the lead in shaping the nation’s 4th largest city. Held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Brown Auditorium on March 11, 2016, the conference brought together some of the leading thinkers and landscape architects who presented nationally significant projects. To learn more about the conference: http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/houston2016/index.html

Moderator, Chapter One: The Foundations

Stephen Fox, Fellow of the Anchorage Foundation of Texas, Lecturer in architecture at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston, and School of Architecture, Rice University

Houston seems to act as though it were an economic invention rather than a place affected by terrain, climate, and ecology. Recent major public landscape initiatives challenge this presumption by constructing (or re-constructing) public spaces that seek to engage Houstonians in more intense interactions with natural life and invite them to interact with one other. Participants in this panel will discuss their reaction to designing public space in Houston.

Jane Anderson Curtis, ASLA, draws on her experiences as a designer, curator, chair of the Hermann Park Conservancy, and director of Hermann Park’s Centennial Gardens, to reflect on the nature of public landscape in Houston, using Hermann Park as what she calls “a template for public space in Houston.” Kinder Baumgartner, ASLA, and Scott McCready, ASLA, of the Houston studio of SWA Group discuss the challenges of reshaping Buffalo Bayou Park, an existing linear park, to make it more accessible and broaden its user base while coping with such natural circumstances as flooding. Mary Margaret Jones, FASLA, FAAR, addresses the issues of transforming a series of parking lots into the twelve-acre Discovery Green, a green urban landscape of activities that attracts a broad and diverse public to downtown Houston. Matthew Urbanski, ASLA, will discuss the local cultural circumstances he has encountered representing Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates as landscape architect for the Menil Collection’s master plan and now as master planner for Hermann Park.


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